Image Credit: Mike D. from the city by the Bay, San Francisco, CA
The Devil's Coach Horse earned its name partly for its wicked bite and partly for its environmental hardiness.
A seemingly simple, black body hides the calculating nature of of the Devil's Coach Horse. The long abdominal segments are slender and flexible. Its elytra (wing coverings) are dull with a matte finish. Strong jaws make short work of killing soft-bodied insects. This member of the Rove Beetle family can inflict a painful bite on an unsuspecting human thanks to these massive jaws.
The Devil's Coach Horse takes on an interesting posture when disturbed or threatened. It gives potential predators as well as reckless humans fair warning. The bendable abdomen rises and curls forward, like a scorpion's. Instead of a venomous stinger, the Devil's Coach Horse opens an internal gland that shoots out a yellowish foul-smelling fluid. This chemical deterrent is an effective way to divert attention from itself.
Devil's Coach Horses are not native to the United States and originated from Europe. Despite being exotic, they have comfortably established themselves in the Western and Southwestern regions of the United States. They normally prey on snails and slugs, and can be found in low altitudes and moist areas such as in parks and gardens where regular watering occurs.
Scientific Name: Ocypus olens
Size (Adult; Length): 17mm to 33mm (0.66in to 1.29in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.
Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.